Boxing News

Q&A: Lovemore Ndou

By Ray Wheatley — World of Boxing

IBO welterweight champion Lovemore Ndou recently held onto his crown with a draw against Mathew Hatton in England. Ndou talks to Fightnews about the Hatton fight, why it was not his best performance, his dislike of Mathew Hatton and his respect for Ricky Hatton and also that IBF 147 pound champion Isaac Hlatswayo and former IBF 135 pound champion Phillip Holiday is on his radar.

Were you happy with your recent IBO welterweight title defense against Mathew Hatton when you retained your title with a draw after 12 rounds. Your thoughts please.

It was definitely not my best performance, but at no point did I doubt that I was in control and was winning the fight. I was not happy with the draw, but I guess it could have been worse. The main thing is that I’m still world champion. It’s always a worry when you are fighting a local fighter in his backyard. The crowd can be very persuasive towards the judges. For every little move that Matthew made, whether it’s a miss or punches taken on my arms, the crowd would cheer like he just scored a knockdown. But I couldn’t get the same reaction for every three or four clean punches I landed. And that can always persuade judges to score the other way. The thing is when you watch the fight on TV you can see clearly who won the fight, who landed more telling blows and who was in control of the fight. Again, you would have to switch off the volume because I really don’t know which fight the commentators from Sky channel were watching. It’s ok to be a little bias, but not the way these commentators conducted themselves. Who did they think they were fooling? I mean people aren’t that dumb. They can clearly see who is winning the fight and the b.s. commentary is not gonna persuade them to think otherwise.

I’m more disappointed with Johnny Nelson. For a former world champion and someone I always respected I have lost all the respect for him. I can’t believe the shit he was saying. What fight was he watching? Or did he get punched-up so bad during his career he has lost sight and all he can now see is ‘white.’ He couldn’t see the black dude that was beating up on the white dude. Maybe he now suffers from color blindness. For the little money he is getting paid to do commentary you would think he would tell things the way they are. But here is a former world champion who is selling his soul for next to nothing. He needs to realize that people are watching, listening and making their judgments. Whatever he says is a reflection to his personality and knowledge of boxing. Somebody needs to tell him that he just made a fool of himself with his bias commentary. Even my 11-year old daughter was shocked with his commentary.

The thing is that you don’t even have to watch the whole fight to see who won the fight. Just a look at the highlights of each round shows me winning clearly. I believe as a challenger you have to take the championship away from the champion and Matthew just didn’t do enough.

You connected with approximately 360 punches in that bout which had more power than Hatton’s-who connected with approximately 430 punches according to fight stats. Many of the Englishman’s punches were taken on your arms and gloves. What are your thoughts please.

Like I said above, as a challenger you gotta take the championship away from the champion. I don’t dispute that Matthew might have thrown more punches than me but they were not landing on the target. They were either landing on my arms and gloves whereas my punches were landing on the target. And I believe that’s how fights are won. You don’t win fights by just charging forward like a footballer. I should also mention that the referee was not on my side. From the moment the bell rung he was just looking at one fighter. It’s like he was looking for every excuse to take away a point from me. I was getting a stern warning for every movement I made to a point where I had to restrain from throwing body punches. Otherwise every body punch I threw was ruled a low blow and had I continued to go to the body I definitely would have lost a point. In fact at one point, he called for a break, which I did, took a step back and then threw a punch. I was warned again. As far as I know the boxing rule states that when a referee calls for a break you take a step back and then continue to fight. And that’s exactly what I did. It’s only when a referee calls for a ‘stop’ that you stop and don’t punch until the referee orders you to fight. So I really don’t know what the referee was going on about.

In the final two rounds you were not breathing heavy, but your punches lacked zip. Was this due to lack of sparring a month before the fight when you suffered a cut eye in training and could not spar leading up to the fight? Please give details.

About a month before the fight I suffered a really nasty cut on my eyebrow which required about five stitches. I chose not to pull out of the fight but I had to stop sparring so as to give the cut a chance to heal. I’m not into the habit of pulling out of fights. I know what promoters go through to put a show together, the TV deals, etc, and I never wanted to jeopardize that. I have fought before with sore hands, bruised ribs, glandular fever and a cut was never gonna stop me from fighting, especially when I had enough time for it to heal. One thing about sparring is that it helps you maintain your sharpness, timing and accuracy and I believe that’s part of the reason I was not on my best on the night. With proper preparation I still believe I would have stopped that ‘donkey’. That’s why I’m still open for a rematch. The funny part of it was that Matthew’s camp thought and believed they were going to win the fight on a cut eye and that’s part of the reason he kept charging forward like a footballer. He was hoping for a head clash and reopening the cut. I knew what they were up to and I knew I had to gain respect from him early in the fight and that’s why I cut up his eye instead with a stiff jab as early as the second round.

Mathew Hatton made it clear that he thought he won the fight clearly. Would you give him another shot at the championship? Would you go back to England or would you prefer the next bout in Australia or South Africa.

Matthew need to re-watch the fight and he will know that he never won that fight. I offered him a rematch right at the end of the fight and his response was that if he couldn’t win the fight in his backyard what were the chances of winning abroad? That comment in itself tells you that he knew he lost that fight and was hoping for a hometown decision. I will say it again, I am open for a rematch but I am not going back to England for that. He is going to have to come to me this time. So either South Africa or Australia, and we can do the fight. Matthew needs to realize that I am the champion and I went to his backyard the first time. I didn’t have to. It’s not like I made more money going to his backyard. I still made the same money I was contracted to make with my promoter. The reason I went there is because I believe a true champ will travel anywhere around the world and fight anyone but a ‘chump’ will always stay home and fight handpicked opponents. Anyway, if he believes that he beat me the first time why would he be hesitant to travel to my backyard and beat me up again?

Former world champion Ricky Hatton who promoted the fight was very respectful of you and did not complain about the decision. Your thoughts please?

This is where you differentiate Ricky, a true champion, from his sibling whom I already said was a ‘donkey’. Ricky is a true champion both inside and outside the ring. Matthew on the other hand is a very unlikeable bloke. Very un-sportsman-like. He wouldn’t even touch gloves. He is just one arrogant dude and I wish he could learn from his brother. You don’t win any fans by being arrogant and disrespectful towards your opponents. Anyway, I don’t have to tell him this. That’s a job for his PR man or manager. But Ricky, in my eyes, and eyes of many will always be a champion. And the respect is mutual. In fact, it tells you who won that fight when a former champion like Ricky doesn’t dispute the decision.

There is talk Ricky will make a comeback next year. Is he still on your radar? Are you confident of victory at the age of 38-years.

I have always wanted to fight Ricky and the feeling hasn’t changed. If he makes a comeback I will definitely like to fight him. I would give Ricky a shot at my title any day. He is probably the only fight I would gladly travel back to England for. I am always confident of victory. And I believe I’m one of those rare fighters who seems to get better with age. I am always up for competition. Like one smart man once said, ‘competition is the cornerstone to democracy.’ I believe that but only I believe competition is the cornerstone to success.

Your promoter is the respected South African Rodney Berman. Has he mentioned he would like to see you challenge fellow South African Isaac Hlatswayo, the IBF welterweight champion. Is this fight in the works? Would you be confident of victory?

This is another fight that is in the pipeline. Rodney will gladly promote this fight as long as Isaac is given clearance by his promoter, Branco Milenkovic. This fight will be history-making in South Africa. There has never been a unification bout in South Africa, featuring two fighters from the same region. The good thing about it is that both Isaac and myself want this fight bad. In fact I spoke to Isaac over the phone about a day ago and he ascertained me that he would like to see this fight happen. He even invited me to his next title defense on December eleventh so we can further talk about this fight. There is already talk in South Africa about this fight. I like Isaac and respect him both as a fighter and person. He is a warrior who, just like me, will travel anywhere to fight and will fight anyone they put in front of him. Apart from that he is a very humble and God-fearing young man. I also believe his style and mine make for a great fight. At this stage it is all up to the promoters to finalize this fight as both fighters, that is, Isaac and myself have already expressed our desires to fight.

Former outstanding IBF lightweight champion Phillip Holiday has thrown out a challenge to fight you. He was an outstanding world champion who was originally from South Africa but like you he has settled to live in Australia. Is there bad blood between you and Phillip? Can the Holiday vs Ndou happen?

This fight is a possibility. This again will depend on Phillip getting an approval from the IBO. He might possibly wanna have one or two comeback fights before he can fight me. I have already assured Phillip Holiday that I will always accommodate him. We go a long way back. We used to be sparring partners and shared the same gym and trainer. I beat up Phillip in sparring in the gym many times before when he was world champion and I will gladly whoop him again.

You are in the last year of your study at university in Sydney and you will be a solicitor later this year. Is retirement on your radar?

Retirement is something that hasn’t crossed my mind as yet. At this stage I’m loving and enjoying what I do. Why retire when I’m at the top of my game? This is what I have worked towards for many years. And now that I’m here why throw it away like that? I believe that life is about timing and balance. So I’m not surprised that I’m graduating while I’m still at the top of my game with my boxing. It was all about timing and balance. And I believe with the same attitude I can still manage my legal career and my boxing.

Are there any other comments you would like to make?

Stay tuned and in the next couple of days or weeks I will be making an announcement about my next fight. I can gladly say that the venue will be either South Africa or Australia. SuperSport in South Africa has already allocated us a date for February and MainEvent in Australia has also allocated us a date for March. So it’s either gonna be in February or March next year.

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